LAKE MENDOCINO, Calif. - On Monday, the Army Corps of Engineers did something that seemed impossible even a month ago. The Corps released water from the Lake Mendocino Reservoir because there's actually too much of it.
At the reservoir's boat ramp, the water is already taking over a big part of the ramp and what it's doing is invading the flood pool.
That's why they're releasing the water, so they have enough space to keep the flood pool from flooding over. "Keep it controlled, cut off the top and spread it out over a longer bit of time and that makes all the communities that are close safe," said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regional Director Lt. Col. Kevin Arnett.
"This is a sigh of relief for everybody in this watershed, but we know that we have to hold on to the conservation gains long term," said Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore who also serves as Sonoma County Water Agency's Director.
Locals we met love the level and all of them hike here every day. "I cannot believe how full it is, It's amazing; I've never seen it this high and I've lived here 30 years," said Chanel Wheeler. "I have never seen this much water in my entire life and me and mom walk this every day," said daughter Danica.
"I'm excited about it honestly. It's beautiful; super grateful for it. We definitely need it," said Shanna Barnes."The last time it was actually higher, past these barriers was in 2010. It's been 12 years," said Danielle Smith.
What really counts is how much water is getting into the reservoirs and underground aquifers after nine atmospheric rivers over the last three weeks. Recovery of California's six biggest mega reservoirs since the end of the year has gone from a paltry 34% full to 48% full, now 78% or normal.
And, get this, five big reservoirs, Bullard, Comanche, Folsom, mega reservoirs Don Pedro and Oroville are all above 100% of normal for this time of year; an amazing reversal. "We're seeing a lot of areas kind of pivot from drought response from trying to recover storage into changing and doing some flood releases. It does potentially set the stage for dealing with flood issues as we move through the snow melt season," said California State Climatologist Mike Anderson.
In the next two dry weeks, state climatologist Anderson does not expect to see a warm-up that will reduce the snow pack and expects more rain next month.